Our last day in Mérida is dedicated to an exploration and discovery of Mayan anthropology and archaeology of museum quality.
The city of Mérida was founded in 1542 and was built upon the site of the Mayan city of T’hó . By the late 19th century, Mérida began prospering from the production of henequén, an agave plant species native to southern Mexico and Guatemala. Growers became wealthy and built large homes primarily out of the local white limestone that still can be seen on Mérida’s Paseo de Montejo. Paseo de Montejo has been called the “Champs Elysees” of Mérida.
On our final day in Mérida we are heading for the Mayan World Museum of Mérida (Gran Museo del Mundo Maya). Along the way, I do want to walk some of the Paseo de Montejo and enjoy viewing some of the old Spanish mansions along the avenue. Some are beautifully restored, and some look a bit boarded up. To our surprise, the finest display of ostentatious wealth turns out to be a museum of Mayan anthropology and archaeological heritage. We have fortunately found Museo Regional de Anthropologia Estado de Yucatan; Palacio Canton. In fact, it turned out to be a better museum (in my humble opinion) than the Mayan World Museum which we visited subsequently.
I include here the collection of iShots I made while roaming the marbled halls. While most of the carvings still in evidence at the ruins we have visited are highly worn and weathered, the pieces on display in this museum are indeed museum quality. For the most part I offer these without comment. On occasion, I will feel compelled to add a note or two.
Central and essential to the study and appreciation of Mayan anthropology is the “glyph.” There are a lot of glyphs such as these on display throughout the museum. These were the Mayan’s form or written language. Before we came to Yucatan, we were quite intrigued by an excellent documentary: Breaking the Mayan Code. Well worth the watching for those interested in looking deeper into Mayan culture.
Ring from a Mayan ball court, covered in glyphs:
I know enough at this point to realize that this represents a decapitated sacrificial victim, the snakes represent his blood issuing from the body, and may be indicative of the reincarnation that is to come:
Much Mayan architecture was covered in stucco and painted with frescoes:
Chac mool, is an alter of a reclining man facing 90-degrees to the side holding a dish or bowl, where the heart of a sacrificial victim would be placed:
A mask of Chaac, his nose turned down (and broken off):
Same mask, side view:
As described elsewhere, Mayan temples were often reconstructed every 52 years in relation to the calendar cycles, often building larger structures over previous temples:
Typical to Puuc-style architecture, rough stones were used to create the shape of the temple, which were then finished in blocks and stucco:
This artifact is rather amazing. A page from Diego de Landa’s Relacion de las Cosas de Yucatan (Relation of Yucatan Things). If you read the Izamal blog, you remember Diego de Landa burned all the Mayan codices (written record) and later realized the crime he had committed. He then worked toward documenting what he could of the Mayan culture and written record.
Though most codices (singular: codex) were destroyed by Diego de Landa and the Spanish conquerors, four survived and are now in various museums around the world. This is a good example:
Modern art as well as archaeological artifacts are enjoyed at this fine museum:
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